Theology: More than Just a Core Requirement
Theology and Religious Studies student, Priyasha Chakravarti, published this article in the GU Review highlighting the THRS Department
In 1773, American-born and European-educated Jesuit priest John Carrol established an institution of higher education based on the Jesuit values of faith, service, and care for the whole person, or “Cura Personalis.”
Influenced by the Society of Jesuits, Georgetown’s two Theology and Religious Studies core requirements strive to teach students how to think, rather than what to think. Encompassing courses from the broad Problem of God and Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs to focused classes like Biblical Literature and Modern Hinduism, Georgetown’s core requirements encourage students to compare and contrast religious traditions, and analyze the moral frameworks responsible for shaping human behavior across generations.
As an international student from India and the Philippines, I eagerly enrolled in Professor Erin Cline’s Ignatius Seminar Human Flourishing: East & West, a course that would reflect all my identities and teach globally expansive thought. We dove into Confucian and Taoist thought, Buddhism, and Christianity, etc. to examine the ways each tradition responded to living the good life. Prevailing themes included forgiveness, rituals, nature, mindfulness, and community-minded behavior. I left each class craving to implement learned practices into my daily life, such as exercising mindfulness and taking ‘awe-walks’ in nature, or adopting certain rituals and rethinking various psychological components of human beings. Human Flourishing taught me that growing mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually means holistically incorporating each tradition’s lessons in a way that fits with our daily lives. Small group discussions and reflective essay writing enhanced class material and embodied Georgetown’s mission of “cura personalis.” I look forward to taking Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs this upcoming semester, a choice motivated by my desire to learn more about the interdisciplinary nature and relevance of Theology.
Theology courses like Modern Hinduism and Biblical Literature enlighten students of its respective religious traditions, while also highlighting religion’s impact in shaping society’s economy and culture. John Katial (COL ’25) reflected on Professor Bulbul Tiwari’s Modern Hinduism course, sharing, “we critically examined how the religion suffused into the sociocultural spheres of nations like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. We assessed the impact Hinduism has had on key social traditions, community development, and politics throughout South Asia, and our professor also infused the course with stunning immediacy, speaking of Hindu diaspora and the post-colonial era. This class ended up being about far more than esoteric theology but instead forced me to deepen my understanding of sociology, government, and history”.
Regardless of religious affiliation, theology educates students on responsible and ethical global citizenship and pushes them to challenge prevailing notions that hinder society from progressing. This core instills cultural sensitivities among students, vital to any university, especially one with Georgetown’s diversity. “The experience was an instrument of Cura Personalis,” John Katial added, “I truly believe only at Georgetown can one receive such a vibrant look into a global faith tradition, while witnessing its connectedness to other disciplines and simultaneously becoming more empathetic by dialoguing about the subject matter with peers.”
While global strife is persistently rooted in religion – be it religious based violence, discrimination, hate crimes, etc. –, it can also provides solace, comfort, justice, and peace. As future thinkers and leaders in this increasingly globalized yet polarized world, engaging in Theology and Religious Studies is an undeniably valuable and enriching experience.